By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
In his “Easter Message in the Age of Anxiety”, the Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, Cardinal Charles Bo, invites Christians to embrace solidarity, love and humanity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though “a huge, suffocating cloud of fear and anxiety engulfs humanity”, we are to find courage in the resurrection of Jesus who is our faith and hope. “More than any year, we need more faith and hope in 2020,” notes the Cardinal.
Cardinal Bo enjoins Christians not to lose the joy of Easter even in the face of the difficult times many people are undergoing due to the pandemic. He invites us still to say “Jesus is risen!”
Humanity’s Way of the Cross
Cardinal Bo recognizes that many people have died from corona virus and several thousand others are infected. In this way, “Covid-19 is virtually the Way of the Cross for humanity,” says the Cardinal, as “thousands have been crucified to a cruel death” by the virus.
He prays that those afflicted and walking in their Way of the Cross may “be strengthened by the faith that the Cross ends in Resurrection.”
Challenge to faith
Cardinal Bo recognizes that the suspension of Masses in many places due to the coronavirus poses a challenge to the fellowship Christians share at Mass. He cites Pope Francis’ comment that the Church should be like a “field hospital” where the wounded and broken come to receive the “healing touch of Mother Church.” While inviting everyone to observe the necessary precautionary measure of isolation, the Cardinal urges Christians not to lose the spirit of communion, joy and fellowship.
“Paradoxical as it may seem, keeping distance from each other means we truly care for each other, because we want to stop the transmission of the deadly virus,” he says.
Call to hope
Even though Holy Saturday and our wait for the Resurrection may appear ‘long’, Christians are not to despair. Cardinal Bo invites us to hope in God who is our light and our salvation (Psalm 27: 1,5). He also prays that as dark nights end with the dawn, Holy Saturday will end with a “Victorious Easter.
“Evil has an expiry date. Good has none,” he says.
Call to solidarity
The Covid-19 virus, the Cardinal notes, has already provided some existential lessons: even powerful countries that have stockpiled powerful nuclear weapons have been impacted by the virus. Cardinal Bo hopes that these lessons may lead us all to recognize the fragility of life and “acknowledge the presence of a Power that is above all.” He also prays that the Cross may lead all nations to “see resurrection in human solidarity”.
The Cardinal reiterates Pope Francis’ call for human solidarity during his Urbi et orbi prayer of 27 March. The Pope reminds us that our destinies are interconnected, and like the disciples in the Gospel of Mark, we are all on the same boat.
Ending his message, Cardinal Bo invites us into a new Easter in a “new world of human solidarity and love.”